Finance stocks drag down Asian markets; Banks and mining stocks suffer in Australia

<p>The Hong Kong market was trading 31points or 0.13% lower at mid day with energy stocks rising while financial stocks dragging the index down. CNOOC, […]</p>

The Hong Kong market was trading 31points or 0.13% lower at mid day with energy stocks rising while financial stocks dragging the index down.

CNOOC, China’s offshore oil producer jumped over 2% to HKD 18.76 after the oil price rebound. Property stocks were also in focus after a report showed a rise in property prices and increased sales transactions in local market.

Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong, local property developers, gained 1.76% and 0.93% to HKD89.50 and HKD130.60 respectively. The financial sector was trading lower with HSBC, BOC Hongkong and Pingan Insurance Corporation all falling on the day.

The Singapore stock market was little changed in the early trading session, dropping only 3 points to 3257.93.

Wilmar International rebounded 0.7% today after touching its 52-week low last week. OCBC Investment Research raised its recommendation to buy and maintain the estimated price at SGD6.48. Wilmar was last trading at SGD5.74.

Comfortdelgro, the biggest local taxi and bus operator in Singapore gained 3.14% after investment bank BNP Paribas upgraded its rating on the company.

In Australia, the local market continued to be dragged down on its second week of trading in 2011.

The banks and mining stocks are the major weights pulling the market down today. The closure of two US banks last week seem to have a trickle effect and we saw the four major banks losing ground today. Most of the banks and financial stocks were down in the US last week and this has also pulled down the local banking stocks.

Mining companies, led by BHP and Rio and the coal miners were also down due to the impact of flooding in Queensland. The coal miners are the most heavily affected and without much progress in terms of rebuilding (the infrastructure) or resumption of production and transportation of coal from those affected areas, we may see the coal mining companies remaining under pressure.

I believe there is a certain degree of hesitation (among investors) at this stage. It is still very early in the year and we’re not seeing the usual or normal level of trading volume yet. It may take another week or two before we get back to the normal trading volume.

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